NFL 2018 Season - Week 16
 

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Better Than Most
by Dennis Ranahan

Kansas City Chiefs Quarterback Patrick Mahomes is the first player in National Football League history to throw ten touchdowns in his first two games … and he hasn’t even started his home schedule. That begins this Sunday when the Chiefs open at Arrowhead Stadium against the San Francisco 49ers.

The 49ers rode their hype into this season based largely on five wins to close out the 2017 season after Jimmy Garoppolo became their starting quarterback. In fact, four of the five teams the 49ers played in that stretch of season closing wins were not altogether that focused on the result. The Jacksonville Jaguars had just clinched their first division title in ten years the week before they visited the 49ers on Christmas Eve, and predictably lost.

The 49ers closed out the season with a win over the Los Angeles Rams, a feat that looks a lot better in the record books than it truly was on the field. The Rams had locked in their second seed playoff berth in the NFC, they couldn’t improve it with a win or give it up with a loss. In response to those circumstances, Los Angeles Head Coach Sean McVay seem to use volunteers from the stands to field a group of guys wearing Rams jerseys, and the 49ers cashed that cast, 34-13.

That win represents the most recent 49ers point spread win. I know the preseason doesn’t mean anything, but still they went without a point spread victory in four summer games. The only week the 49ers haven’t lost money for their backers since that win over the Rams last December, was against the Houston Texans. The only reason the 49ers didn’t lose that one, (they pushed on the spread) is because the Texans missed an extra point after scoring the winning touchdown in the final seconds.

The 49ers couldn’t have been put in a worst spot on opening day, they had to play the Minnesota Vikings in their home stadium. The Vikings are as good as the NFL has to offer entering the 2018 season, with a defense as suffocating as a bully slaming the back door on his little brother.

While the 49ers did fall behind in that game, 24-6, they showed true grit in closing the final margin to within one score, 24-16. Against the Vikings, San Francisco turned the ball over on the goal line, and backers of the team found it easy to argue that if they only had eliminated those turnovers they just might have beaten Minnesota.

In second week action, the 49ers bolted to a 30-13 fourth quarter lead over the visiting Detroit Lions, and their backers thought a pay day had finally arrived while laying a touchdown on the spread.

Didn’t happen.

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford engineered a pair of drives that resulted in late touchdowns and cut the final margin to a field goal, 30-27.

Now, for the first time this season, the 49ers bettors have turned tail and taken San Francisco’s opponent by more than a 70% margin. The public money is on the kid making his home stadium debut with ten touchdown passses already to his credit.

Finally, the 49ers get their first motivational boost of the year, and it comes against a team riding the crest of two huge road wins over the Los Angeles Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers. Wouldn’t you know that the San Francisco bettors would abandon ship just as San Francisco is due to win?

Although, saying that is a little like Senator Al Franken’s comment about Senator Ted Cruz. He said, “I like Ted better than most people, and I hate him.”

The 49ers might be in their first good situation to beat a point spread this year, but that doesn’t mean they are going too. We don’t know how bad the Lions are this year, but we know they got blown out on their home field by a rookie quarterback and couldn’t beat the 49ers.

This Sunday at Arrowhead, we have a game that promises to be the highest scoring matchup of the season. The Chiefs offense is explosive and the 49ers don’t have a defense that can stop it. But the 49ers boost on being a bet against underdog will serve them well, and the Chiefs defense is a sieve.

It all adds up to a high scoring affair with the Chiefs winning margin clearing the spread.

Qoxhi Picks: Kansas City Chiefs (-6½) over San Francisco 49ers